Get a feel for the old and new on a behind-the-scenes tour of Adelaide Oval, walking in the footsteps of champions.
Even with its eye-catching scalloped roofs, smart new forecourt and state-of-the-art dressing rooms - thanks to a major redevelopment in 2014 - Adelaide Oval still feels like one of the nation’s more magical sporting arenas.
For the first time visitor, childhood summer memories flood back when you spy the stadium while walking down from the city centre or approaching it after a quick libation in a North Adelaide bar.
Once inside this spectacular reinvention of Adelaide Oval, it’s those old stories that still resonate. The old scoreboard is still there as are the Victor Richardson Gates, which you can remember commentators reminiscing about batsmen hitting huge sixes over. The best way to get a feel for the old and the new is to tag along on a behind-the-scenes tour.
An exceptional tour behind the scenes
Billed as a 90-minute experience, a behind-the-scenes tour is truly exceptional. It includes the players’ changing rooms, a walk on the playing surface, a circular tour of the arena and detailed inspections of both the old scoreboard and the much-loved Moreton Bay Fig trees.
For cricket fans climbing up the narrow stairs into the old scoreboard is akin to a religious experience. Some of the most famous names in the history of the sport such as Bradman, Jardine, Lara, Botham and Tendulkar have been displayed here – each name being laboriously painted by hand. The original mechanism, which uses a series of hand operated pulleys and chains, is still in use.
“When the scoreboard was first opened in 1911 a local commentator said that the scoreboard was so advanced it would never be surpassed,” said Peter, one of the 100 tour guides employed at the Oval. According to folklore the scorers would often “borrow” chains from bicycles parked nearby when the mechanism suffered a catastrophic breakdown.
Other highlights of the tour include the famous Moreton Bay Fig trees, once a popular viewing platform for the children of Adelaide, the grassy Northern Mound and the Village Green, which now plays host to corporate marquees during Test matches and other major sporting events. To walk around this ground is to follow in the footsteps of champions. This tour brings them back to life.
The Bradman Collection
Sir Donald Bradman, widely regarded as the greatest batsman of all time, donated a treasure trove of cricketing memorabilia to the State Library of Australia. The Bradman Collection is now on loan to the Adelaide Oval and is housed under the Riverbank stand of the Oval (access through the South Gate on War Memorial Drive).
The collection contains an astonishing number of photographs, sound recordings, newspaper cuttings, artworks, ceramics and pieces of silverware. A highlight is the 1930 newspaper poster from The Star in London, which simply read ‘He’s Out’. Such was the Don’s fame that the sub-editors felt no need to use his name.
Covering the years from 1927 to 1977, the collection is more than just a sporting shrine...it also reflects the pre-war era when Bradman rose to superstar status. As a young boy Bradman famously taught himself to bat by hitting a golf ball against a water tank with a cricket stump - a reconstruction allows visitors to test their skills against those of the great man. Cabinets brim with photographs, letters, citations, clothing and trophies. Take your time, there’s much to enjoy. Entry to the collection is free.
Spectator comfort was a guiding principle behind the design of the new Adelaide Oval. Increasing seating capacity had to be matched by superior facilities, easier pedestrian access and better sightlines. Public access has been greatly improved with the use of multiple escalators, high-speed lifts and generous walkways.
Both the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide have their own permanent facilities in the new Oval, complete with warm up areas, ice baths, massage rooms and a theatre for team briefings. Each club has a private hospitality area where they can entertain corporate sponsors and other guests. Corporate guests also enjoy much improved facilities and better views from their private rooms. The same is true for the sports media, who now broadcast from a specially designed media hub high up in the Western Stand.
The Bradman Collection is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. The entrance is near the Concierge Desk at the South Gate. Guided tours of the Adelaide Oval operate from Monday to Friday at 10am, 11am and 2pm and Saturday at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm (no tours held on event days and public holidays).
Tours last around 90 minutes and cost $24 for adults and $14 for children; concessions also available.